So, this week, I had a frustrating experience at toddler group. I got broadsided, not for the first time, by the ‘toddler group is part of the women’s work’ argument. This is all very well, but I am not, in fact, a woman. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me give you a potted history (deliberately slightly blurry, for that whole anonymity thing).
When our first son was born, my wife and I both worked full-time. We moved as a (then three-person) family to a job that allowed one of us to work while the other stayed at home to look after our son. The paid job is my wife’s, so I’m the Stay At Home Dad (SAHD). We settled into a church which has many great things about it. I started going to toddler group there with our son. Over the years, I’ve grown used to the frequent use of the term ‘mums’ to describe all the grown-ups who attend (though it’s never stopped being annoying).
In the years I’ve been going, we have in fact had aunties, grannies, granddads, friends, and dads; not just mums. And every now and again, I have a burning desire to shout: ‘I HAVE NO BREASTS’ when I’m described as a mum. I feel this may cause some consternation, so have resisted thus far.
Son number one is now nestled happily in school, but son number two arrived, and so my weekly toddler group visits continue. For the last three years (roughly) I have been involved in running the toddler group, not just attending.
And this week, in our leaders’ and helpers’ prayer time after the session, we had over 20 minutes devoted to telling us how the toddler group is part of the women’s work, followed by somewhere in the region of eight minutes’ prayer. Now, given that I was one of four dads this week (out of about 16 adults) I have serious reservations about piling the whole bally lot into ‘women’s work’. I think that completely fails to address the current make-up of the group, or indeed societal trends. Am I being oversensitive?
I guess part of my frustration is the implication that I should be out at work earning money for the family, rather than bringing up our kids and supporting my wife in her work (which we both view as a joint ministry). I don’t think we’ve made the wrong decision for our family and our circumstances (though feel free to disagree).
And just for the record, I’ve chosen to write anonymously because, while I’m interested in your views on the situation, I’m not looking to ‘shop’ my church or embarrass anyone.
So my options are:
1) Throw my toys out of the pram and storm off from church in a huff.
2) Keep my mouth shut, because I can’t get my head around where I’d even begin to address what I see as a woeful argument.
3) Attempt to point out that some of the grown-ups at toddler group come without breasts (though perhaps formulate a slightly more eloquent argument).
4) Seek wisdom from the internet.
5) Shut up, because I’m a man in a woman’s world and I just need to get on with it.
Other suggestions are welcome. So far, I’ve plumped for options two and four.
Can we best serve the dads who attend by keeping our toddler group firmly in the women’s work bracket?
Image credit: Robert Scoble